U.S. Shift Work Recovery Reaching Summer Plateau

Kronos Workforce Activity Report Shows First Non-holiday Week Decline in Total Shift Volume Since Week Ending April 12
July 28, 2020, LOWELL, Mass.

National Overview:

According to the U.S. Workforce Activity Report from Kronos Incorporated for the week of July 20-26, U.S. shift work1 declined during a non-holiday week for the first time since the week ending April 12, which marked “the bottom” of shift work activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1.1% decline highlights an uneven month for shift work ahead of next week’s national monthly unemployment report. Weekly shift trends show no meaningful growth during the month of July to date and just 1% total growth since the week ending June 28. For added perspective, shift work grew an average of 2.7% per week in May and 1.9% per week in June. As of July 26, just 61% of shifts lost during the pandemic have been recovered.

Region Snapshot:

Shift work across all four regions declined the week ending July 26, likely caused by a mix of states rolling back or slowing their reopening plans and anticipated seasonal workforce fluctuations. The Northeast2 saw the largest decline in shifts, dropping 1.7%, while shifts in the South3 (0.8%), West4 (0.6%) and Midwest5 (0.4%) dipped less than a percent. The Northeast and South both remain down approximately 15%, though the Northeast experienced a much more substantial decline in shifts during the initial days of the pandemic.

Job Growth:

Employee terminations6, including voluntary and involuntary turnover, and job creation as measured by new employee hiring7 have once again diverged, now reaching a ratio of 2.7:1. During a strong economy such as February 2020, this ratio should sit at approximately 1:1. By comparison, during the week ending March 29 – two weeks after a national state of emergency was declared – it reached 3.4:1, indicating 3.4 terminations for every 1 hire.

Industry Analysis:

Mirroring overall and regional shift trends, growth across all five key industries is currently stalled. Healthcare sits at 8% below pre-pandemic levels; manufacturing, along with services and distribution, is 12% below pre-pandemic levels. The retail, food service, and hospitality industry must still recover 13% of shifts to reach early March levels, while public sector remains down 26% overall.


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, HCM practice group, Kronos
“While some industries powered by the hourly workforce flourish in summer, the summer season typically experiences minor dips in shift work volume as employees take time off. The combination of this seasonal fluctuation and rising COVID-19 cases has converged to stall the jobs recovery.”


The Kronos U.S. Workforce Activity Report is inclusive of data through July 26, 2020 and delivers near real-time insights into weekly workplace activity and trends. Visit www.kronos.com/USWorkforceActivity to view the full report archive.

Supporting Resources

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations — including half of the Fortune 1000® — and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Kronos merged with Ultimate Software on April 1, 2020, to create one of the world’s most innovative HCM and workforce management companies. Visit www.kronos.com. Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

About Ultimate Software

Ultimate Software is a leading global provider of cloud human capital management (HCM) and employee experience solutions, with more than 51 million people records in the cloud. Ultimate’s award-winning UltiPro delivers HR, payroll, talent, and time and labor management, as well as HR service delivery solutions. Founded in 1990, Ultimate is headquartered in Weston, Florida, and employs more than 6,000 professionals. To learn more, visit www.ultimatesoftware.com. Ultimate Software: People First.


Footnote 1: “Shifts worked” is a total derived from aggregated employee time and attendance data and reflects the number of times that employees, especially those who are paid hourly or must be physically present at a workplace to perform their jobs, “clock in” and “clock out” via a time clock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

Footnote 2: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 3: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 4: For the purposes of this report, West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Footnote 5: For the purposes of this report, Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Footnote 6: “Terminations” is the aggregate number of employee profiles that are deactivated/removed from a Kronos cloud solution, indicating a termination of employment. The cause could be a layoff or resignation, as examples. Termination dates may be pre- or post-dated, creating minor variations in prior week’s data.

Footnote 7: “New hires” is the aggregate number of new employee profiles created inside a Kronos cloud solution. A new employee profile is created when an individual is hired into a position. New hire dates may be pre- or post-dated, creating minor variations in prior week’s data.

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